Archive for the ‘Home Remodel’ Category

Organize your household paints for easy touch-ups

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My husband is the keeper of the house paints in our home. That’s because he does most of the painting–interior and exterior–himself. I asked him how he keeps track of all the half-used paint cans since we had just completed a small remodel project.  His answer was quite simple. “Label each can as you seal it.” Here’s how:

Use a piece of masking or painter’s tape on the can lid. Include the room or area where it got used and the date.


The date is especially important, because if you’ve repainted the room a different color in the interim, you can get rid of that paint. Check with your local waste management service regarding proper disposal. Also, previously used paint does have a shelf life. Anywhere from 2-5 years. After that, it can get moldy or contain a foul odor.  Ever try to tell the difference between Sherwin-Williams Swiss Coffee and Alabaster? Knowing which can of paint you used for which area of your home will prevent mistakes when you need a quick touch-up.

How to find a new home for your old sofa

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Imagine you are moving (or remodeling) and you’ve decided not to keep your sofa or couch.

By the way a sofa is typically larger than a couch, seating four or more people whereas a couch is generally smaller, seating three or less. Now you know!

What do you do with your sofa (or couch) if you no longer want it?

As a relocation specialist and professional organizer, I see this come up with practically every home I downsize and every move I manage.

The answer will always depend on its condition and where you live. There are many potential solutions but you will first need to ask yourself these four questions about your used sofa:

  1. Is it practically new – less than four years old or an antique –  and in great condition? You may be able to sell or consign it.
  2. Is it four or more years old and in very good condition and definitely still usable without stains, tears or fading? You still may be able to sell it or donate it or offer it for free to someone in your community.
  3. Is it torn, ripped, stained or faded or in need of cleaning?  You may be able to arrange to have it picked up by your local waste management company’s bulk pick up service and depending upon how its manufactured it may (or may not) be recycled by them.
  4. Are you very concerned about it ending up in landfill? You may be able to recycle it but be prepared to pay for that. Recyclers generally won’t pick it up unless you are disposing of a large quantity – think dumpster – of items. On top of that you will probably have to pay recycling fees.

The biggest challenge in finding new homes or disposing of sofas and other large furniture typically comes down to time and transportation.

Time comes into play because scheduling a truck pick up of your gently used, usable or discarded item(s) must be done in advance, since many charities book as much as six weeks in advance.

If you are planning to move to relocate or remodel, be sure to add “sell/donate furniture” to your to-do list at least two months ahead of your move.

Why a so long? Let’s say you scheduled a charity to pick up your sofa. All charities will leave it up to the discretion of the driver as to whether or not to take your sofa. If they reject it when they arrive, you may then only have two weeks or so to find another solution before your move date. Chances are that means you will either have to schedule a hauler, which can be costly, a bulk pick up (if your city/county offers such a service) which also requires advance notice or find a way to move and transport it yourself; Rarely an option for most people in the midst of a move, especially if you are a senior or live alone.

 TIP: Plan ahead and read on to know your options.  By the way, these options apply to other large items of furniture as well.

Sell/Consign – For items that are practically new and in pristine or “gently used” condition, constructed from real materials (not particle board or composite wood) and of course, in demand, such as mid-century, some antiques, high-end contemporary and designer brands. you can try both local and on-line estate sellers.

TIP: Do a web-search for “Estate sellers near me” or “Furniture consignment stores near me” These searches will bring up both local as well as online options (The sells high quality pre-owned sofas to buyers throughout the U.S. Be sure to inquire about their policies and procedures for viewing and selling your items.)

Private Sale – For sofas that are in good condition but may be older or in less demand, or not acceptable to estate sellers or consignment services, try online selling sites like Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, OfferUp or Trove. Plan well in advance to post your item on these sites as you are competing with many others who are selling similar items.

If your item doesn’t sell within three weeks of your move, consider other options. Keep in mind, you will also have to deal directly with the buyer and he/she will likely need to enter your home to collect and pay for the items. Some online sites will process payments for you and take a commission. For neighborhood sites, I recommend requiring cash only.

If you live alone, make sure to have someone there with you. If you are disabled or not particularly strong, you will need to let the buyer know to come with help. Carefully consider your personal safety before selling anything to a private buyer.

Donation – As Baby Boomers age and downsize, there is a glut of items being donated. So much so that charities can be much pickier about what they take. Most charities train their drivers to carefully inspect items. Pick up is always at the driver’s discretion. This can be a huge issue if you have a hard deadline to meet to be out of your home.

TIP: If you are remodeling, ask your contractors if they would move your sofa for you to the street for hauling.

Most charities will want to see photos of your sofa. Be sure to send them good quality photos, at least three, including front, side and back views and be absolutely candid about your item’s condition. Also, inform the charity about access to the item including outside and inside stairs, long hallways or whether or not there is an elevator.

I recently had a charity reject my client’s sofa because the driver and his assistant did not want to transport the item down a long flight of stairs.

TIP: Do a web search for “charities that offer truck pickup near me” to locate charities that offer free truck pick up of your donated furniture and household items.

Charities are looking for items that are sellable so don’t expect them to take anything that is damaged, in need of cleaning or repair.  To locate a charity that offers free truck pickup, check out but be prepared to enter your contact information on their website. You can also contact charities directly such as Salvation Army (, Habitat for Humanity Restores (San Francisco Bay Area only) or Out of The Closet.

One other option for donating your older but good quality sofa is to make it available for free to people in your community through sites such as Freecycle, Nextdoor or through the “free stuff” tab on Craigslist. If you can spare the time, having someone come and get your old sofa is in fact money in your pocket. Why? Because unless you have strong kids who are available exactly when you need them to help, you may end up paying for the labor it would cost you to have your sofa moved curbside for the bulk pickup: An unexpected expense and logistics issue often overlooked in crunch time.

Recycling/Disposal – You know that old sofa you’ve had for 20 years, the one that is covered in an old blanket because underneath your pets destroyed it? This is the sofa that no one wants but you will still need to dispose. In Oakland, California where I live, both the City and the County offer, free curbside bulk pick up. This is the last available free option for large old sofas and other large household debris that can’t be simply tossed in the trash.

TIP: Call your local waste management company to see if they offer bulk pick up service. You will still need to get your old sofa to your curb. If you live alone, or are a senior, you may have to hire a helper.

I recently used an online app called Lugg to help a client who needed to get her sofa and other items on the curb for bulk pick up. They are a platform for movers, haulers and helpers, for when you need a little or a lot of muscle.

In Oakland, the local waste management company will sort items and if they can be all or partially recycled they will be, I am told. But if you are very concerned about the footprint you leave on the environment, there may still be other options for keeping your sofa (or at least most of it) out of the landfill but it will most likely cost you.

Check out a website called, to find a recycling facility near you.  It may not be free and you will either have to arrange to transport your sofa yourself to a local recycler or pay to have it hauled.

The bottom line is no matter which option you choose, plan ahead. You want to have a Plan B (donate) and possibly even a Plan C (haul) if your original Plan A, to sell or give away your sofa falls through. Trust me, the last thing you (or your real estate agent) want to see the day you move is the ugly, torn, pet-stained sofa, you couldn’t get rid of still in your empty home.

The One Resolution You Can Keep

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If you were born between 1947 and 1964, when it comes to organizing your home, my guess is you are less Do-It-Yourselfer and more Do-It-For-ME.

new_years_resolution_listGetting more organized is a common New Year’s resolution but I believe when people say they want to “get” organized, what they really mean, is they want to “be” organized.

When you live in your home for 20, 30 or more years, raising a family or even taking care of aging parents, you’re going to have a lot of stuff. This is just reality for most people in their 50s and 60s. This doesn’t mean you are a “hoarder” – you’re just like everyone else. It’s just the idea of finally dealing with all that accumulated stuff is overwhelming and chances are you would rather spend time doing something you enjoy and that’s worth a lot!

If you’re a homeowner in your 50s or 60s  at some point you’re going to  grapple with the problem of downsizing while you can still be involved. Otherwise you’ll end up passing off the problem to your children or even to friends if you don’t have family or family nearby.

Downsizing your home is like saving for retirement. The earlier you start thinking about it, the better.

I had a client tell me recently she didn’t know what she would do if she had to downsize her home by herself.  She recently decided to move to save money for her retirement. The problem was that in order to move to a new home she had to sell her current home but her realtor wouldn’t even consider listing it until she dealt with all her stuff.

It took a crew of four professional organizers and less than two weeks to get everything sorted, donated, hauled and ready for her movers, including long forgotten items belonging to her parents in her attic and garage. When we were almost done, she told her realtor she wanted to “test the waters” to see if there was any interest in her home. Much to her delight, it sold the first day it was listed.

If your roof needed replacing would you do it yourself?

Home improvement projects, especially large organizing projects that involve whole homes or highly cluttered spaces like garages, are no different in many ways from a home remodel. It takes a plan, skill and muscle. And whatever you do, don’t just move or store what you no longer want. This will only cost you more in moving or storage charges in the long run.

Get it done, done well and done fast and you can actually check this one off your list of New Year’s resolutions.




Before the Remodel Comes the Premodel

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Courtesy of DMS Interiors

Remodel in progress. Photo credit: DMS Interiors

Courtesy of DMS Interiors

Remodel after. Photo credit: DMS Interiors

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge. You’re going to do a remodel.

Before you pick up the phone to call your designer/contractor/architect, take a look around. What do you see?

Chances are you’re not seeing what your contractors will want to see the day they get started – an empty space.

More likely you’re looking at stuff – the good, the bad and the ugly: Furniture, household goods, artwork, paper, personal items and in all likelihood some amount of indistinguishable clutter on your floor and other surfaces.

It doesn’t matter if you are remodeling your whole house or just one room, before the first nail is in, you’ll need to think about how to organize and empty the room of all its contents. This is especially true if your remodel includes a new floor.

Before you pull the plug on the whole idea, consider this the first phase of your remodel. I call it the Pre-model – as in plan and prepare for the remodel.

Essentially, the Pre-model involves organizing, de-cluttering and emptying the project space before the remodel begins. It’s as necessary to the process as getting the right permits. Build this into your timeline and your project will start on time.

Delay or avoid the Pre-model and your project will come to a screeching halt before it has even started.

There are two ways to approach the Pre-model: The smart way and the hard way.

Here’s what the hard way looks like:

Your contractors are due to begin demolition tomorrow. You wake up at the crack of dawn and dump everything you own, wanted and unwanted, into boxes before stuffing them haphazardly into another area of your home – that is, if you’re lucky enough to have room. Otherwise you take it to an expensive self storage unit that is twice the size of what you need because that’s all they had available – and promise yourself you will deal with it later.

If you choose this method, don’t be surprised when you finally go to move all the stuff out of storage and you hear yourself say more than once, “I can’t believe I actually kept this!” (And paid all that money to store it!).

The smart way, on the other hand, looks more like this:

You are comfortably moved into a new, temporary home or area of your house and getting back to your routine. Your contractors congratulate you for making it possible for them to start on time and everyone is eager and excited to get started.

The smart way involves taking time to plan and prepare for your Pre-model.  If you do it yourself, this is what the Pre-model requires:

  1. PLAN
    Determine if there are any items you will need access to during the remodel. This is particularly important in a kitchen remodel where you may be without a functioning kitchen for several months. Consider setting up a “temporary kitchen” in a less used area or room of your home with basic kitchen appliances such as a microwave, mini fridge, electric water kettle, plates, utensils, etc.
    Determine what household items you want to keep. Skipping this step will cost you in the long run so make it a priority to sort and organize these items by category.
    Just as your contractor would, make sure you have the right “tools” for your Pre-model. Use large plastic bags for trash and for items you want to donate; paper bags for recycling; packing boxes or bins and other moving supplies for things you want to keep; and, a 4’-6’ table or surface for working.
  4. PURGE
    Make arrangements to sell or donate furniture items you no longer want. Take pictures of these items and email them to your preferred consignment store or charity. These services will review the items and decide whether or not they are interested in them.
  5. PACK
    Pack what you’ve decided to keep in boxes, labeled by category. This will make the process of unpacking that much easier when your remodel is done. Pack heavy items like books in small boxes; fragile items like dish-ware, lamps and crystal in double weight “dish-packs” and small appliances and lighter items like linens and lamp shades in larger boxes.
  6. STORE
    If you are lucky to have extra space in a garage or spare room to store the household items you retain, consider hiring a moving company that specializes in small moves to help you move those items for you.
  7. MOVE
    If you are planning to remodel your entire home, it’s likely you will need to relocate for a period of months. Consider consulting with a professional organizer/move manager to help you plan for this type of temporary move. They can also recommend reputable moving and storage companies in your area as well as execute your Pre-model and get you unpacked and organized when it’s done.

Doing the Pre-model is what allows your remodel to happen. By following these simple steps, you’ll experience far less stress during your remodel and discover how quickly you can live in and enjoy your new kitchen, bath, bedroom or newly remodeled home, when it’s done.

Staying Organized (and Sane) During a Home Remodel

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Staying organized during a home remodelOrganization in a house torn apart is not an easy task – but it is a necessary one.

If you plan to remain in your home during a remodel, you’ll save on relocation costs but you’ll also have to put up with the noise, dust and constant interruptions. Should you decide to stay-in-place, here’s a tip from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) on how to keep the project organized and minimize the stress on you and your family.

Before you start, set aside one corner in a room unaffected by the turbulence of the remodeling process to store all of your files.  While you have already created your Dream Book or Idea Book for design ideas, this is only one aspect of the project you need to keep organized. You will be receiving various documents and pieces of information during the project. Keep all these documents together in a project file.

Here are examples of items you will want to hold on to during your remodel:

  • Construction specifications
  • Your contract
  • Construction schedule
  • Pre-construction agreement
  • Change orders
  • Cost estimates
  • Your budget
  • Lien releases
  • Construction documents, drawings and plans
  • A reduced copy of your plans to take with you when shopping for materials, products or appliances
  • Correspondence between you and your contractor
  • Other correspondence or agreements with third party participants
  • Construction journal – a log detailing how the project is progressing
  • Your idea book
  • Paint chips, manufacturer samples, etc.
  • A list of questions to ask your contractor
  • Notes and reminders to yourself

Whether you choose to remain in your home during a remodel or decide to temporarily relocate, advance planning, organization and budgeting are critical to the success of your project and will make it easier for you to cope during the remodel.

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